In order to be a good father and partner, it is important that you look after yourself physically and emotionally. This means making sure you get sleep, exercise and eat well. Whilst doing these things at a time when there’s a new baby in the house might seem difficult, with a little planning, it doesn’t have to be impossible.
Once you’ve found your parenting rhythm, negotiate with your partner to set aside time each week for sport or exercise. Your new role might mean mixing things up a bit compared to before your baby came along. It might mean doing different exercise like taking your baby (and the dog!) for a walk or run in the pram, or using a workout DVD at home. Or you might do the same exercise but less often. For example, you might reduce the number of days you go to the gym but you could buy a small weight set for using at home when there’s time.
Talk to other fathers about what they do to keep fit
If lack of time means you need to change the way you keep fit, talk to other fathers about how they get regular exercise. You might get some new ideas and a training partner at the same time.
Be proactive when it comes to getting sleep
If you normally stay up late, it might help to go to bed earlier. On your days off, try scheduling an afternoon nap when someone else (babysitter/ relative/ friend) looks after your baby.
Be creative with your sleeping arrangements
In order to get adequate sleep, many families temporarily change their sleeping arrangements. For example, on nights when you need to catch up on sleep you might sleep in a separate room to your partner, where you won’t be interrupted by your baby’s crying.
Set a limit for coffee and alcohol
When you’re tired and stressed it can be tempting to use coffee and alcohol to cope. Whilst they can give you a pick-me-up or calm your nerves in the short term, they can make things worse in the long term by affecting your health and your ability to cope effectively in the future. It can be helpful to set a daily or weekly limit for your drinks.
Think smarter to decrease your household workload
You might like to set up automatic payments for regular bills, do your grocery shopping online, cook meals in bulk to freeze and reheat as needed, set up an automatic sprinkler system for the garden, or invest in a robot vacuum. The less time you spend doing these routine jobs, the more time you will have to look after yourself.
Think about getting some help around the house
The amount of housework will increase during this busy time and you might both feel too exhausted to do it. If you know that you like your house to be tidy, and hate mess, think about hiring a cleaner to keep on top of the heavy-duty cleaning jobs – like the shower, oven and toilet, if you can afford it. If you can’t, you might have a friend or relative who will help out.
For more tips like these, why not check out Baby Steps, a free online program that aims to enhance the wellbeing of new mums and dads.